Fire, Burn and Scalds

Injuries from fires and burns are some of the most painful and severe that children can suffer. Luckily, most of them can be prevented by making a few easy modifications to your home and teaching your family what to do in case of a fire emergency. Each year, approximately 528 children ages 14 and under die due to unintentional fire- and burn-related injury.

Each year, approximately 116,600 children are treated for fire/burn injuries.

Scald burns, caused by hot liquids or steam, are more common types of burn-related injuries among young children compared to contact burns, caused by direct contact with fire, which is more prevalent among older children.
In 2006, there were 2,304 fireworks-related injuries among children under than 15 years of age.

  1. Among children ages 4 and under hospitalized for burn-related injuries, approximately 65 percent are treated for scald burns and 20 percent for contact burns.
  2. Among different types of fireworks in 2006, firecrackers were associated with the greatest number of estimated injuries at 1,300. There were 1,000 injuries associated with sparklers and 800 associated with rockets. Sparklers accounted for one-third of the injuries to children less than 5 years of age.
  3. Burns account for more than half of all fireworks-related injuries and primarily occur to the hands, eyes and head. Fireworks-related injuries peak during the month surrounding July 4, when 60 percent of them occur.

Where and How

  1. The majority of scald burns children experience, especially in ages 6 months to 2 years, are from hot foods and liquids spilled in the kitchen or wherever food is prepared and served.
  2. Hot tap water accounts for nearly 1 in 4 of all scald burns among children and is associated with more deaths and hospitalizations than any other hot liquid burns.
  3. Tap water burns most often occur in the bathroom and tend to be more severe and cover a larger portion of the body than other scald burns.


  1. Children under 4 years of age and children with disabilities are at the greatest risk of burn-related death and injury, especially scald and contact burns.
  2. Male children are at higher risk of burn-related death and injury than female children.
  3. Children in homes without smoke alarms are at greater risk of fires and fire-related death and injury.
  4. Children ages 5 to 14 are at the highest risk of fireworks-related injuries. However, children ages 4 and under are at the highest risk for sparkler-related injuries.



  1. In the United States, the total annual cost of scald burn-related deaths and injuries among children ages 14 and under is almost $44 million. Children ages 4 and under account for $39 million, or more than 90 percent, of these costs.
  2. Total charges for pediatric admissions to burn centers average $22,700 per case.


 Proven Interventions

  1. Smoke alarms are extremely effective at preventing fire-related death and injury. The chances of dying in a residential fire are cut in half when a smoke alarm is present.
  2. On average, a $33 smoke alarm produces $940 in benefits to society in the United States.
  3. Less porous cigarette paper, which reduces the chance of cigarette fires, costs $0.0001 per pack and generates $0.07 in benefits to society.
  4. Child resistant cigarette lighters, which makes it more difficult for a child to ignite the lighter, cost $0.04 per lighter and generate $3.17 in benefits to society.
  5. Hot tap water scalds can be prevented by lowering the setting on water heater thermostats to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or below and by installing anti-scald devices in water faucets and shower heads.

Laws and Regulations

  1. Many communities have established local ordinances or building codes that require the installation of anti-scald plumbing devices in all new construction. These laws have been effective in reducing the number of scald burn deaths and injuries associated with hot tap water.
  2. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) mandated a requirement for all disposable and novelty cigarette lighters to be child-resistant. Since this standard has been in effect, the number of child-play lighter fires has declined 58 percent; the number of deaths and injuries associated with these fires has declined 31 percent and 26 percent, respectively.
  3. CSPC has issued regulations requiring children’s sleepwear be flame-resistant and self-extinguish if a flame causes it to catch fire. Children’s sleepwear must be either flame-resistant or be snug-fitting.


 Safety Tips

Fire Prevention Tips

Burn Scalds Information